by Steph Creaturo
Don’t runners already have strong, stable hips? Well, yes and no. Certain muscles get super strong when we run, but others don’t. The catch is we also need those muscles in the “don’t” category to stabilize the hips while we run.
I put together this sequence at home to turbo-charge my hips practice. By performing the entire sequence on blocks, our muscles are challenged in these familiar poses. When I do this practice, I feel my hamstrings working a bit more. I’m able to open different parts of my quads, I get some core/shoulder strengthening as well, and I feel an increase in pelvic stability.
The height of the blocks also encourages the mind to stay present. They make us focus on drawing into the midline of the body, particularly from the edges of the hands and feet. This training season, this mental focus has helped me beat back the “wall” that creeps up at the end of longer runs/races, when the sweaty, salty fatigue threatens to overtake my sharp mental focus and strong form.
Coupled with the sequence in last week’s Strong Hips = Happy Yogis post, you’ve got a pretty complete hips practice – all in just 10 poses! Also, add this to your running/yoga practices at least three times a week to cultivate stronger hips, which can mean happier legs (and in my case, it’s been happier knees).
And lastly – really, don’t worry how “tight” your hamstrings/hips/quads feel. As you can see in the video, my “straight” leg sometimes means that my knee is bent! We runners have tighter hamstrings/hips/quads than yogis – and that’s cool. Just like you wouldn’t run a marathon without proper training (right?), we don’t aim to stretch the hamstrings/hips/quads all at once. Work with where you are in your body so you can stretch these muscles in a safe, effective manner over time.